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A six-day trial is recommended by the tribunal.
The initial hearing date for Microsoft’s appeal of the UK Competition and Merger Authority’s decision to reject its Activision Blizzard offer has been set for July 24.
The CMA took the unexpected decision in April to block Microsoft’s proposed $69bn acquisition of Activision Blizzard, citing concerns related to the burgeoning cloud video gaming sector and concluding the bid would risk “suppressing competitors in this growing market.”
And now, after Microsoft’s summary of application to appeal the CMA’s choice was recently published, in which it accused the UK regulator of making “basic mistakes in its evaluation,” the Competition Appeal Tribunal in the UK has actually held a case management conference to settle initial information of the hearing between Microsoft and the CMA.
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After Microsoft pushed for a June hearing and the CMA’s lawyers argued for a later date, the CAT’s presiding judge, the Honourable Mr. Justice Marcus Smith, moved the hearing to the 10 business days beginning July 24 as a provisional date.
The CAT agreed that it was unlikely the appeal would require all 10 days, but it suggested that 6 days — an increase on the 4 days asked for by Microsoft — may be a better timeframe for the hearing, prompting both parties to consider longer rather than much shorter oral submissions given the complexities of the case.
The CAT has scheduled a second case management conference for June 12 to address issues with reliable and expert witness testimony; if it becomes clear at that meeting that the provisional hearing dates need to be postponed, an extension can be requested.
Even if Microsoft’s appeal is successful, the case will have to go back to the CMA for further review.